DC Area Mom and Author of Wear This, Toss That!
Shares Tips on Simplifying Our Fashion and Beauty Choices
As young lawyer, I had the luxury of shopping downtown at lunch hour, getting my hair done at a trendy salon, and having the majority of my wardrobe dry-cleaned. As a new mom, I was lucky if I got to shower in the morning and it wasn't unusual for me to leave the house in a T-shirt put on inside out, hair in a ponytail, and no make-up other than tinted Chapstick (does that even count?). One baby followed the next and three children later it seemed that months of self-neglect dragged into years. Looking at back at family photos, I sorely wish I’d had a friendly intervention.
To help women avoid a similar fate, in her new book, "Wear This, Toss That!" DC metro area mom and style-maven, Amy E. Goodman, teaches us how to get control of our closets and refresh our look without breaking the bank. If you have too much of what you don't need and not enough of what you do need, Amy has the answers that will simplify your choices, swap out what’s not working, and help you love your mirror again.
DCMM: Amy, first off, we want to congratulate you on the success of your new book, Wear This, Toss That! For time-stretched and budget-conscious moms, your message of taking care of yourself, paring down, and shopping wisely is a welcome one. What inspired you to write this book?
I’d worked in women’s magazines a number of years when my cell phone rang after a TODAYshow segment. It was a literary agent and book producer and she basically said she knew everything there was to know about me and that she had an idea for a book and wanted me to write it. This came at a point in my career when a long-form writing project felt right, and naturally I’d always wanted to pen a book. It just so happened the opportunity that ignited the fire literally sparked into my lap.
In your book you talk about the ways in which it costs us not to look our best. What are those ways?
Well, if you think about it, having clothes in your closet that you don’t wear is the equivalent of clipping dollar bills to hangers and not spending them. How long would you really leave money there to collect dust? So there is a financial loss in terms of not wearing what you own. When you are ill dressed for a job interview in a competitive marketplace, it could cost you the job. You want people to pay attention to what you have to say, not that your suit looks disheveled or that your blouse is cut too low. Those valuable first impressions are irrevocable, and that’s for every time you meet someone new. And for most of my fellow mom friends, it is often those interpersonal connections that lead them to work opportunities, nanny sharing information, conversations that spark community activism...every impression counts.
In between raising your 2 children together with your husband and trips to NYC for appearances on shows like TODAY, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, THE EARLY SHOW, and THE VIEW, you also burn the midnight oil as an author, Editor-at-Large of SOUTHERN LIVING, and TIMEX Fashion Trend Director (while managing to look terrific, I might add). How did your life change once you became a mom? Do you have any advice you want to share with other moms about balancing work and family?
I waited to have children, part of that wait included being able to have my family on my own terms. I dub myself the three-quarters-time mom, because most of the time I’m home watering the herb garden, doing the “x” number of laundry loads for the week and tending to my precious babies and husband who fill my life with light and joy. I mention this first and foremost because it is by far the most important “work” that I do. The last quarter is my journalistic career that requires desk work and travel, namely to New York but also Atlanta, Los Angeles and elsewhere. I’m returning from an E! News segment in L.A. as I type. Never say never, but to date we don’t have a nanny.
I fully embrace that balance is probably not in my vocabulary, and I’ve come to accept that looking at the world from a lopsided perspective is completely normal and perfectly fine! I’m not even sure what “balance” really means anymore, because to achieve that are we not always in a constant state of flux?
What I do is not for everyone. I thrive by the spontaneity of the news cycle and know the location of every family bathroom at Dulles airport (which is to say the novelty of travel has not worn off). My work is invigorating, stimulating and evolving: it fuels a quest and thirst for life on so many levels. I’m fortunate that I chose wisely and love what I do. And when I return home from a work trip, I’m propelled by this energy to focus on motherhood in a refreshed way…to truly claim the domestic domain! It’s actually pretty unbelievable how one side of my life fuels the other.
And while I chose wisely in my career, I chose even better with my husband. He is 100% supportive and has never EVER told me I could not do an assignment or take on a job that requires travel. This trip, for example, we left as a family for California Tuesday – Sunday, returned on the redeye Monday morning, and then I boarded a plane for Los Angeles at the crack of dawn Tuesday. Hats off to a strong significant other who believes in the dreams of his/her partner.
There is no magic recipe for this work/family conundrum. Women constantly redefine the roles of motherhood and career to their own liking so that it molds to their individual circumstance, just like me. (And yes, tinted Chapstick counts.)
As a busy mom, it is easy to fall into a "uniform" that favors comfort and durability over looks. But you remind us that especially for a mom, it is important to nurture your own self-esteem with clothing that makes you feel good too. If you could pick a comfortable but stylish outfit for a day that starts in the playground but may end up in the mall, what would it be?
A pair of Capri pants topped with a floral print blouse (machine washable!) with a separate camisole (just in case the blouse is the victim of a fly-by popsicle, at least you have something underneath), a leather belt (J.Crew is having a nice belt sale right now), strappy beaded gladiator sandals, pair of shiny stud earrings (if you have an infant/toddler) or bohemian chandelier earrings (if your child won’t pull them) and a sporty watch (I don’t like to rely on my iPhone on playgrounds as I’m always terrified I’ll drop it). This season the carryall, oversized tote is in. Use this trend to your advantage as a modified diaper bag. And if your playground is sandy, who am I kidding? Wear flip flops for play, but switch into the sandals in the parking lot before you shop.
What percentage of clothing in a woman's closet do you estimate is actually worn on a regular basis? What is the first step to paring down an overstuffed and underutilized wardrobe? Do you have a top 5 in the category of things that we would all do well to purge?
Every woman is different, but for those reading, you know where your hangers fall. Some haven’t looked in their closet beyond the laundry they had to do this week, and the years of neglect may make you feel like it’s project impossible. Others may feel good about 50% of their clothes, but haven’t a clue as to how to pair up the other half. Then there are those who already have their groove going on when it comes to style and has a mere 20% to pull out and evaluate before repurposing or tossing.
You really have to commit to pulling out everything (and for where we live this makes sense during the big seasonal summer/winter shift), and I mean EVERYTHING and evaluating pieces one by one. Doing it all at once is better than doing it in small spurts, when you may forget which sorting pile is what. See if your significant other can take the kids for the day, and separate the clothes you haven’t worn in 2-3 years into one of four piles:
Wears- pieces you have every intention of wearing
Tosses – clothes beyond repair
Charity – pieces in good condition that someone else could be actively wearing now
Maybes – clothes you feel indifferent about (The book then helps you deal with this pile.)
Top 5 purges for the DC Metro crowd
1. Have really fabulous clothes you haven’t worn that make you feel guilty? Trying selling them (but only if you’ll really intend to!) via EBay, garage sale, consignment or Craig’s List, for example.
2. Clothes that are beyond repair. Been meaning to find three buttons for a favorite blouse? Commit to finding it or let the piece go.
3. A favorite piece you wore to death two summers ago, but feel uninspired about this year.
4. Sale items you bought for a steal, but have never worn.
5. Tame the nostalgia clothing (your choir’s high school sweatshirt) to one box.
What are some of the trends you see emerging for the next fashion season?
Look for a color palette shift to purples ranging from plum to lavender, forest green, gray, rust maroon and bright, bright red. Menswear separates will get lots of play alongside the trouser pant, which offers a wider cuff to counter-balance the hips. Conversely high-slit skirts, a little bit of lace and shirtdresses paired with skinny belts will speak to a more feminine dressing. Thin white turtlenecks will pair nicely under nearly everything, but there the fabrication is key to get smooth layering. Really full and long skirts, prairie prints, cozy cuddly sweaters and relaxed parkas ruled the runway, so there is always comfort in being on trend too! There are lots of options this fall, some of which is already starting to surface in stores, so seek out the trends that work for you.
Do your children have their own opinions about what they wear or do they still let you guide their clothing choices?
My one-year-old son is busting out of his 18-month-old sizes, so his Buddha belly dictates what we squeeze him into. As for my daughter, she has always had a voice about clothes, ever since she was 2. For a while, she only wanted to wear special occasion dresses. Then she challenged me to wear pajamas outside of the home. Right now, she does the current trend of color blocking like nobody’s business, mixing fuchsia, orange and blue with aplomb. As long as she has kick pants under her skirts, I’m perfectly amenable to her unique approach to pairing patterns and colors.
What are a few of your favorite local stores for children's clothing, professional attire, and just plain fun and stylish clothes?
Naartjie (in Tyson’s) started in California, and when my daughter was one-and-a-half I discovered them in Santa Barbara. Back then I felt like we didn’t have such a reasonably priced equivalent and it felt like I bought half the store. Paddington Station in Vienna is great for consignment, I love H&M for children’s basics (T-shirts, tights, the occasional trendy sweater or dress). We have a family friend who is two years older than my daughter, and her parents regularly send an annual box with gently used clothes for the next year.
I haven’t had to wear suits for a job interview in years given my profession, where you are literally judged in personality by the designer you are wearing, but I have suit designers I love includingElie Tahari, Theory, Jones New York, Nine West and Calvin Klein. And suits have expanded in range of style so opt for feminine detailing and flair, and consider a more masculine cut for fall.
Gossip in Arlington has an owner that buys lines from California, so it speaks to my roots with breezy sundresses and flowy tops. Hu’s Shoes is like a woman’s dream shoe closet so fantastic for inspiration as is Sugar in Georgetown for women’s clothing. I buy shoes mainly at Nordstromsand Shoe Fly, the later for only a season. I recently bought an army green dress at Target with the intention of using it solely as a pool cover up, but recently I swapped its cloth braided belt for a medium-width leather belt, topped it with a long, gold necklace and brown hat, and by golly I’ve been wearing it about town. So while partial to Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Taylor, Barney’s Coop and Anthropologie, my budget never allows for full-priced purchases. For the volume of clothes I need for TV, I shop consignment often and love vintage. Try Second Time Around in Georgetown and Fashion Exchange in McLean. I just popped into one in Vienna on Maple Avenue and bought a maxi dress (tags still in it) and metallic silver strappy sandals (never worn) for a total of $24 and wore it to my reunion.
We recently enjoyed hearing you discuss your new book at One More Page Books in Arlington.Do you have any more upcoming appearances, articles, or projects that we should keep a look out for?
I just had a fashion show regarding the book on The Early Show this June (you can visit their web site to see video) and jointly launched a campaign with Banana Boat regarding sun safety over the summer months (check out their Facebook page for info on yours truly, and take their quick Sun 101 quiz to trigger a $1 donation to the Skin Cancer Foundation: they’ve committed to raising up to $101,000 for that organization!) I’m in the July issue of UCLA Magazine in an article about Bruins in fashion, and in the same month my fashion segment for E! NEWS should run. In September, a second segment on the Rachael Ray Show regarding the book and summer to fall fashion will air. People Stylewatch just called and plans to run a full story about the book in their biggest issue, September! I’m thrilled for this recent coverage in addition to the previous press and a début on the Today Show. It’s been an incredible journey.
Amy E. Goodman is has been a magazine editor for 12 years for magazines such as In Style and most recently Southern Living. She is a much sought-after style expert, regular on national talk shows, and one of the genuinely nicest people around. We are very grateful she took the time to meet with us and share with our readers. You can read more about Amy on her Facebook author page at “wear this toss that”. Her new book, Wear This Toss That! Hundreds of Fashion and Beauty Swaps That Save Your Looks, Save Your Budget, Save You Time, is available at local bookstores such as One More Page Books and Amazon.com. Thanks so much Amy!
Image Credit: Amy E. Goodman
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